Many regard Olov Johannson as Sweden's greatest craftsman on the nyckelharpa. With his brilliant solo playing and as a member of the group Väsen, he has been largely responsible for the explosion of nyckelharpa playing that has been witnessed recently in Sweden.
Olov grew up in Tärnsjö in northern Uppland and began to play the nyckelharpa at age 14. About a year later he began to study with Curt Tallroth, a well-known bearer of the tradition from Harbo. Through Curt, Olov has learned tunes that have been played in northern Uppland for centuries, passed on from musician to musician. Olov has also played with Eric Sahlström, the most prominent nyckelharpa player of the 20th century.
Since 1989, Olov has worked exclusively as a musician, principally with Väsen. But he also plays with Anders Bromander, Nyckelharpsorkestern, Björn Ståbi, Mats Berglund, Kalle Almlöf and as a solo artist. The popularity of the folk-rock group Nordman has brought the sound of Olov's harpa to the ears of more than one million record buyers. In 1997 he was honored to be the first Swedish folk musician to work with the world renowned American ensemble, the Kronos Quartet. Olov has toured in the U.S.A., Canada, India, Libya, Slovenia, France, Ireland, Scotland, Luxembourg, Italy, Japan and elsewhere.
Olov works actively to pass on his musical inheritance, and has become a role model for many young nyckelharpa players. He gives instruction both at The Eric Sahlström-Institute and through the Royal Music College in Stockholm.
Olov has received many awards and scholarships for his achievements as a musician. In 1984 he was selected as a National Musician, in 1989 he was awarded the Viksta-Lasse Scholarship, and in 1990 he was chosen as World's Master of both the modern and older type of nyckelharpa. In 1992 he received the Ceylon Wallin Scholarship and in 1995 the Vuxenskolan's Artist Stipendium. 2013 he received the Zorn Medal in gold, possibly the finest reward a traditional musician can get in Sweden.